Refugees; November 5, 2019


Isaiah 16:5 In love a throne will be established;
in faithfulness a man will sit on it–
one from the house of David–
one who in judging seeks justice
and speeds the cause of righteousness.

It is fascinating that this clearly Messianic prophecy comes in the middle of a passage talking about refugees from Moab. People from many nations have indeed found refuge in Israel, but the Church is open to people from every ethnic group on earth. Refugees flee turmoil and seek stability, and Christ is indeed the Rock of salvation. In recent years the whole category of refugees has been muddied and confused, with massive movements of people for a wide variety of motives, making for political chaos in the places they end up. This naturally calls for wisdom in national leadership, but above all it calls for seeking the One this verse is talking about. On the human scale, often the influx of people disrupts the very stability they say they are seeking. Sadly, some seem to be bent on taking over, imposing the system from which they supposedly fled on the land and people where they end up. It often takes supernatural discernment to see people’s motives and, as the current terminology has it, vet them. As it is, the people with the most genuine, sincere needs are too often left behind and those with ulterior motives get ahead. As Jesus said, we need to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) As His agents we are to “seek justice and speed the cause of righteousness,” just as this verse says.

Living in Japan I have had little direct contact with refugees, because Japan is very ethnically closed. Omura has one of two major Immigration Detention Centers in the country, for people who have run afoul of Japan’s strict immigration laws, and some of those would indeed qualify as genuine refugees in my book. However, the majority were in the country for simply economic reasons (legal or illegal) and failed to maintain proper visa status. I have dealt with some of those, who insisted on their innocence and purity but when given leniency turned out to be completely false. Another pastor in town has a remarkable ministry in the Detention Center, and has gained more people for the Kingdom there than in his Japanese congregation. I pray for him and seek to support him, but that isn’t a ministry the Lord has assigned to me. In this information age I am aware of refugee issues around the world, and this confirms the reality that God’s smart and I’m not. I am to be active in prayer, at least, so that God may be acknowledged as holy and His rule come as His will is done, for refugees and everyone else, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. We just had the Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. I haven’t run into any refugees who would fit in that category, but I know there are many worldwide. I pray that whether you want them to flee or to stay put, in either case they would be filled with Your peace and even joy, in the middle of whatever their situation might be, so that those around may see the hope that they have and be drawn to You, (1 Peter 3:15) for a great harvest in Your kingdom. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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